"Holds speed well through the turns, but prefers not to be driven too hard”
“Feels a big board underfoot for its quoted size”
“Works better generally as a single-fin than as a twin”
Last year, in a surprise move, Starboard axed their time tested and highly successful Evo and replaced it with the Starboard Quad range. The Quad was also available as a convertible, which allowed you to remove the four fins and use the board as a single-fin. We had reservations about the performance of the Quad, but found that when set up as a single-fin the board was very comparable to the previous year’s Evo. This year Starboard have reintroduced the Evo by renaming last year’s Quad range and offering a convertible option to twin-fin instead of quad. Additionally they have added a whole new Quad range, which from our first impressions seems to be a big improvement on last year’s.
So what we have here is an Evo, which is basically last year’s Quad board, but can be used this year as a single or twin-fin. We carried out most of this test with the board setup as a twin-fin.
The Evo 86 is a big board. Admittedly it’s the highest volume board in the test (jointly with the Fanatic), but feels a lot bigger underfoot. It has a maximum width of 60.5cm (3cm bigger than the Fanatic), which probably goes some way to explaining why it feels so big in comparison. It has the second widest tail width (to the Exocet) at 37cm, but despite its size the Evo weighs in at just 6.59kg bare.
The Starboard straps are excellent this year. They’re a big improvement on previous years’, and the adjustment scale is a nice touch indeed and helps to get them all sized correctly. The finbox is the new Slot Box, which uses a system similar to FCS but with position adjustment available, and can be operated with a Phillips screwdriver rather than an Allen key. We’ve actually had an issue with a couple of the threads stripping, but have been assured that this problem is isolated only to the very first boards off the production run.
On the water there’s no doubting that the Starboard is a big board, and to be fair, the smaller 81 would probably have been a closer match to most of the other boards in this group. In a straight line, as a twin-fin, it feels big, quite directional, but not especially grippy from the tail of the board. It almost feels a little under-finned, particularly with the bigger sails (5.3m upwards), and can spin out if pushed a little too hard. As a single-fin it feels a lot better, with more drive, more acceleration, and quite a directional feel.
On the wave the Evo is admittedly bigger than most of the boards here, but nevertheless was noticeably less agile. If you turn with a wide arc and don’t drive too hard, the Evo holds its speed well and would be a good choice for someone learning to waveride frontside. However, when pushed harder we had a similar issue to last year’s Quad, where the board just wasn’t comfortable. We had a sensation that the rail was actually working to ‘cork’ the fins out of the water and lose their grip (as a twin-fin). Perhaps you need to be heavier to prevent this from happening, but it’s worth mentioning that our 87kg Clone was still noticing this issue through harder bottom turns. As a single-fin the board feels a lot more predictable, but isn’t as manoeuvrable as the other boards in this group. Again, it’s fine for novice and heavyweight waveriders, but less suited to advanced riders, who will want to push the board harder and faster through the turns.
As a single-fin, sail carrying capacity is good, and this Evo could take up to 6.0m. At the top end the twin setup gives more control, and at a push you could use down to 4.5m sails.
As a board for heavyweight riders doing bump-&-jump sailing at the coast, the Evo works well as a single-fin. It has comfortable straight line performance and holds speed well through the turns. More advanced riders or those looking for tighter turning and a multi-fin experience would, in our opinion, be much better off looking at the new Quad IQ.
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